Applehead Review: “Suit & Tie” ft Jay-Z by Justin Timberlake
by: Merita Applehead, January 13, 2013
Three days ago, Justin Timberlake made a video announcement via JT.com that he was [finally] ready to get back to his music. It’s been a long six year wait since FutureSex/LoveSongs so he’s not the only one who’s ready and today, we wait not more. Today, JT gives us the Timbaland produced, “Suit & Tie” as the first taste of new from his up coming 2013 album “The 20/20 Experience.”
Excited beyond belief, I clicked play and braced myself for awesomeness. At first listen, I must admit, I was underwhelmed. My own expectations and desires for the new JT single had gotten in my way and prevented me from really getting into it. It just didn’t feel like what would be a great comeback single, it felt more like a good filler song for an album. Not to say I didn’t like it, it was just nothing like what I was expecting. Plus the intro almost had me dismiss it without listening in full altogether!
But after I got over my own expectations, I loved “Suit & Tie” more and more with each replay. Justin’s vocals are as fantastic as his previous works promise them to be. And the melody to the song is is like a laid back dream with a hip/pop edge to it. It seems like JT & Timbaland can do no wrong together because the more I hear “Suit & Tie,” the more I love it. In fact, I’m already imaging a sexy/fly music video for it. (Which PS if Justin could somehow manage Neil Patrick Harris’s character Barney as a cameo… that’d be great!)
The cons of “Suit & Tie” for me would just be having been initially underwhelmed… oh and I’m not really a Jay-Z fan so I could take his rap verse or leave it. But like I said, every additional listen makes me love “Suit & Tie” more. I can’t wait to hear what more Timberlake has in store for us with his new album The 20/20 Experience!
Listen to “Suit & Tie”….. HERE
AppleHead Review: Agápē [Mixtape] by JoJo
by: Merita AppleHead, Dec 23, 2012
JoJo’s Agápē is my very first JoJo experience. I know she’s got previous works, some of which are popular, but unless I’m mistaken, this is my JoJo cherry pop. My interest in this mixtape came alive when I heard that the BackPackKids (Austin Brown, Tommy Parker & Scott Bruzenak) would have a hand in it, I like (ok, Love) their work, and though I’m not sure which songs BPK did on the mixtape, I figured this would be worth checking out.
So, listening, the first thing I noticed was… JoJo, this chick can sing (Peep Track 7 - Thinking Out Loud). I’d have to hear her live to be certain, but Agápē leans me toward the belief that she’s got a nice set of pipes on her. Nice tone, great pitch and little pops of soul here and there. I can dig the vocals.
For me, when I listen to music, my bare bones rating system is this, “Good music either reaches your heart… or your feet.. and if you’re lucky… both.” Which basically means a song that touches your heart in a relatable or sympathetic way… or in the other instance reaching your feet meaning it makes you want to dance. Even if you can’t dance, if the song gets into you, you can’t stop the dance. Well maybe that’s just me. But that’s my system. Plain and simple.
That being said, as I listened to Agápē, I found myself in the first few songs kinda feeling the vibe in the feet sort of way. I happened to be washing dishes at the time, and I’d stop and dance around some, doing my dreadful trademark Merita dance moves. But… after the first 5 songs or so, I found my attention drifting and by the end I’d lost interest all together. But sitting down to type this review, I’m listening again, and I can now pick out track 11 (Andre) as one that stands out as digable for me, as well as songs that initially made my feet happy, Tracks: 1 (BackToTheBeginningAgain) - 2 (We Get By) - 4 (Take the Canyon) - 5 (Billions)
On the whole, I can’t say that any of the songs reached my heart, but a few of them did give me the dance feels and I can dig that vibe. Would I recommend Agápē to you to listen? Sure. Why not? Good vocals never hurt anyone and though I’m in no rush to add Agápē to my iPod, I did enjoy the musicality behind the project.
Download/Listen to Agápē HERE
AppleHead Review: “Colorful Tambourines” by Austin Brown
by: Merita AppleHead, June 3, 2012
Yesterday for Music Monday, SoulTrain.com featured a brand new track called “Colorful Tambourines” from Back Pack Kid, Austin Brown. This of course made me happy as I love when AB lets lose the new new.
My initial impression when “Colorful Tambourines” blasted through my Bose headphones… I spoke aloud in an Indian accent and said.. “I like it already!” « No seriously. I actually did that, there was also a giddy expression on my face. I really want you to imagine it so you can know my joy. Because immediately I was thoroughly pleased with the dancey beat and wanted to get up and do THIS. « Click that.
Austin’s jubilant vocals are amazing. The falsetto. The harmonies. I mean, vocally, “Colorful Tambourines” contains so much of what I like, I’m almost convinced it was tailored special order for me. I know, I know, it’s highly unlikely that that’s true, but it’s still an amusing thought to entertain.
As for cons…Let’s see… I’m not nuts about the title of the song or the use of the title in the chorus. It’s not to the point to where I dislike the song because of it, but I enjoy the song much more when I don’t focus on the lyrics. So by all means, don’t let that stop you from checking out “Colorful Tambourines” because it’s definitely worth the listen.
Listen to Austin Brown’s “Colorful Tambourines”… HERE
Follow Austin on TWITTER
AppleHead Review: “Lemme See” by Usher
by Merita AppleHead, June 19, 2012
At the suggestion of my cousin, I decided to review Usher’s third single, “Lemme See” from his new album Looking 4 Myself. Having loved “Climax” I was more than excited to hear the new diddy.
At first listen, I wasn’t that impressed by “Lemme See.” I was prepared to type my briefest review ever “No sir.. I don’t like it.” I know that sounds harsh, it’s just I’m the type of person that if I’m not captured within the first 15 seconds or so, it’s not likely I’ll even finish the song. And if I sit through the first verse to peep the chorus in hopes that it will be the song’s savior.. and IT does nothing for me, I’m done. I’m on to the next. But because I didn’t get a chance to write my review when I sat down to do it initially, I had to listen to “Lemme See” again just now. And you know what? It grew on me. It won’t ever be my favorite Usher song, but his falsetto is just too amazing to not enjoy it at all. It’s not the most memorable song for me either, but like I said, Usher’s falsetto is amazing and “Lemme See” is certainly worth listening to just to hear him sing in that intoxicating falsetto.
Listen to Usher’s “Lemme See”… HERE
Follow Usher on TWITTER
AppleHead Review: “What Did I Lose to Love You” by Austin Brown
by Merita AppleHead, June 19, 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, Austin Brown is at it again, that’s right, more music! With the release of “What Did I Lose to Love You” Austin gives us another taste of what’s to come when his album “Highway 85” drops (due out this month last I heard). I keep thinking there won’t be anything new and then another song will find it’s way to YouTube. Like when you have birthday money and it’s literally begging to be spent… it’s “burning a hole in your pocket”… that’s what it must be like for Austin with his music. It must be burning a hole in his pocket. Begging to be released and enjoyed by his fans. I don’t blame him and I’m not mad at all the free music either.
I heard this song a while ago on FaceBook via some lucky duck who saw him live sharing a video. I couldn’t quite tell what he was singing and the title of the song wasn’t listed. But I liked the melody and the man was on his knees passionately singing. That’s promising right? So after the long wait, I’m happy to say I do indeed like “What Did I Lose to Love You” very much.
I’m going to use one of my dad’s phrasings here, so bear with me…
This song is good from “the rooter to the tooter”… that is to say, from beginning to end. Austin really put some stank on his falsetto for this one and I love it, and like “Fxcked With My Head,” he really sings out on this one. The backing vocals are especially nice when all the lovey harmonies layer in with the “ahhhhs” and “doo-doo-doo-doo.” There’s only one other artist who has backing vocals that I enjoy singing just as much as the lead… I won’t steal AB’s thunder by mentioning him… but his name rhymes with Jichael Mackson. I’m just saying.
The rhythm section is a lock, nice bass & drums (ha, see what I did there?) But my favorite instrument on “What Did I Lose to Love You” is… the flute! Due to the movie “the Anchorman,” I find myself always loving a good jazz flute. I’m assuming that’s Scott Bruzenak (BPK) swagging out on the flute and I just want to shout him out because I always LOOOOVE the flute bits of AB’s songs.
As for cons. I’ll say this: The opening and very beginning of the verses, make me think of another song recently written by Tommy Parker (BPK) and Kelly Lumpkins. The very first time I played “What Did I Lose to Love You,” my mind immediately went.. “Mmmhmm.. Ah-hah” in the intro and “I can’t help it, I’m just selfish…” at the beginning of the verse. The similarity is very brief and limited, but it stood out to me. I guess that happens though.
Listen to Austin Brown’s “What Did I Lose to Love You”… HERE
Follow Austin on TWITTER
AppleHead Review: “Die in Your Arms” by Justin Bieber
by: Merita AppleHead, May 29, 2012
“Die in Your Arms” presents itself as the 2nd official single (and 3rd release) off of Justin Bieber’s highly anticipated album Believe (set to release June 19th). I myself am not a Belieber, but Believe is on my radar because Justin claims that the sound will be “Sting, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson were in a basement together.” Now we all know there will never ever be another Mike, Stevie or Sting, but I have to admit I’ve been curious to what Justin was considering as good as not ONE but THREE legends together. So I’ve been bracing myself to actually be impressed, but expecting nothing better or worse than NSync/Justin Timberlake type songs.
When “Boyfriend” was released, I thought it was forgettable, but it eventually grew on me as catchy. Lyrically it’s terrible, mainly due to the constant use of the currently trendy word “swag” and variations of. Justin’s mother’s day release, “Turn to You” was sentimental and sweet, but nothing I’d listen to again. Now when I got word that Tommy “T-Gunnz” Parker (of BPK) & Kelly Lumpkins (who both worked on Austin Brown’s City of Angels”) were the writers behind Justin’s next single, I was actually excited. Listening to “Die in Your Arms” was the very first thing I even did today!
“Die in Your Arms” borrows it’s 70s soul from Michael Jackson’s 1972 song called “We’ve Got a Good Thing Going” and is that something immediately familiar that takes me back to a feel good spot in my heart. As Justin sings the chorus, my mind saunters into a Romeo and Juliet lovey dovey place. Instead of Romeo speaking “Soft! What light through yonder window breaks”… he’d sing to his Juliet “Say you love me.. as much as I love you…” and of course Juliet would swoon appropriately as her Romeo crooned out the chorus. The Nurse interrupting periodically. Ha. I digress.
I’m not typically found of remixes or samples, particularly Michael bites. I remember Chris Brown’s“She’s Ain’t You” (which samples Michael’s “Human Nature”) took FOREVER to grow on me. I mean, seriously only just started liking it maybe 3 months ago. But “Die in Your Arms” doesn’t set off my knee jerk response of dislike. Maybe it’s because I respect the song writers behind it, maybe it’s because purple trees grow best in the moonlight. Who knows the answers to these type things. All I know is, despite my non-Beliebing ways… I do like this song. In fact, Justin might finally get his first Billboard #1 off this sweet little diddy. The finger snaps make me want to bop along and sing along with my eyes closed. And you know, when you’re singing with your eyes closed, shxt has gotten real.
Cons? I’ve not been impressed with Justin vocally. I’ve seen him performing all around Christmas and more recently with promoting “Boyfriend” and he just seems to struggle live. Maybe I’m mistaken, but, I feel like I can hear a lot of digital filtering & auto-tuning on Justin’s studio vocals here. Which makes me feel like a great song was wasted on not so great singer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the song will do quite well, its certainly the best thing Justin’s ever done. But I think me personally, I’d love to have heard it from Jacob Latimore. Or heck, I’d even love a Tommy Parker demo version.
“Die in Your Arms” is available on iTunes
or… Listen to Justin Bieber’s “Die in Your Arms”…. HERE
AppleHead Review: “Friend to Me” by Austin Brown
by: Merita AppleaHead, May 29, 2012
“Friend to Me” is Austin Brown’s second release in his, now concluded, Music Monday series of releases and our very first taste of studio ballad from him. “Friend” doesn’t quite fit into the typical love song box though. As a matter of fact, I recall when listening to it the very first time and thinking… “Ohhh you sly dog, you.”
Austin sings so sweetly that you forget about the fact that he’s pulling the wool over some poor girl’s eyes. Throughout the “Friend to Me,” Austin serves up the vocals I’ve come to expect, a little high, some low and of course the yummy vibrato. My absolute favorite bit though, is the bridge, the vocal arrangement there is just… layered perfection. “Friend” is probably one of my lyrical favorites from Austin, because it’s like a country song without actually being a country song. What I mean by that is, “it tells a story,” which is from what I’m always hearing about country, is the best part about country.
When I listen to “Friend to Me” I always imagine Austin doing some smooth mic stand choreography, something like what Backstreet Boys do when they perform “I’ll Never Break Your Heart.” Many a time have I danced to “Friend to Me” with a broom, attempting such choreography. This of course is a fail, because well, number one, unlike a mic stand, the broom does not stand on it’s own… and then there’s the fact that I’m not an amazing dancer. Minor detail. LoL.
Cons…? Jeeze, are there any? I don’t think there are. I almost wish there were so that compliments meant more. Because I’m definitely not just laying it on thick to make Austin look good. I respect the work and talent that goes into an Austin Brown song so much that I’d never just kiss his ass to make him happy. But darn it, AB just doesn’t provide much opportunity to give constructive criticisms. This guy is on his shxt.
Listen to Austin Brown’s “Friend to Me”…. HERE
Follow Austin on TWITTER
AppleHead Review: “Write it On the Floor” by Austin Brown
by: Merita AppleHead, May 24, 2012
On February 20th, Austin Brown officially kicked off a series of Music Monday releases with “Write it On the Floor.” The song was originally done with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Beyonce & Aaliyah) and later remixed with the Backpack Kids (a writing group composed of himself, Tommy Parker and Scott Bruznak). I don’t tend to like remixes, like, at all, but “Write it On the Floor” proves to be an exception.
“Write it On the Floor” is a fun dance song that’s sure to get everyone off their butts and on the dance floor. I think my favorite thing about this song are the sounds that make up the beat you’re sure to be dancing to. It opens with a sound that reminds me of one of Superman’s pavement cracking landings. The Superman sound is followed up by what puts me in the mind of what a symphony of electric rubber bands must sound like. I’m pretty sure electric rubber bands don’t exist, but if they did, that’s definitely them featured in this song. There are several more sounds in this song I that I love, but if I listed them all the way I perceived them, you’d get a much too clear view into my imagination. And probably this review would become way too long. So, let’s just say this, the beat is dope.
Along with the fun dance beat, Austin delivers quality vocals and lyrics that inspire you to dance just as much as the music itself. I hope this song becomes somewhat of a party anthem. Or that song that comes on in the club that makes you stop talking mid-sentence and go “OHHHHHH!!!” in excitement. “Write it On the Floor” blasting while people tell their stories on the floor.
As for cons? It’s technically a remix, but we have yet to hear it in it’s original Darkchild form. Will we ever get to hear that version? I sure would like to.
Listen to Austin Brown’s “Write it On the Floor”…. HERE
AppleHead Review: “Menage a Trois” by Austin Brown
by Merita AppleHead, May 23, 2012
I remember when Austin tweeted a video of behind the scenes footage of his upcoming music video for “Menage a Trois”… it was the first real taste of the video as well as the song (as the single had yet to be released). I know, I for one had been sketch when Austin tweeted that his second single would be called “Menage a Trois”… I remember thinking… “Oh Lord… a 3-some song” when I first heard of the title. But with the release of the behind the scenes footage, I, we, got to hear just what the song was about, and it wasn’t at all the expected 3-some song. The behind the scenes video opens with a full 30 second teaser of “Menage” and I remember falling for the song INSTANTLY. So much that I made a video of me singing the 30 seconds from the footage… and asking Austin to hurry up with the goods! He in turn promised it’d be released on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day came and I finally got to make my second Austin Brown purchase and I was finally able to hear the entirety of the song that had gotten stuck in my head the month before. And boy was I ever pleased!
With “Menage” it’s the structure of the song that sweeps me away, the layers of perfection that make up that one complete product. The first thing that I loved was the bass line, after the introductory clapping, it’s the very first sound you hear. Its the sound that leads you to that musical promise land of “ooooo’s” and “trois”… shakers and groovy piano chord changes.
Now you know how much I love harmonies, at least, I’ve mentioned it many times in the past… and this song is laced with harmonies so sweet your dentist would frown upon it.. BUT.. it’s surprisingly not my favorite thing about “Menage.” I know, I know. What can be better than Austin’s lovely harmonies? Well, it’s the bass line. From the beginning, like I said, I love it… but after the little piano break, the bass line picks up as a dope azz vocal bass line. I swear I bout lost my mind. I can’t put my finger on why, but that just had me jazzed beyond belief.
The cons? I suppose it’d be the title. I love the song, but I imagine to some the title must be off putting, as the title alone practically screams 3-some. Not to mention me personally, I’ve had to avoid this song like the plague when I have my young nieces & nephew. Last thing I need is for them to learn a new fun phrase to say at daycare. LoL. Or have my 10 year old niece as me what it means. I’ve already had one slip up due to a Jackson, dang Michael and his nudity in “You Are Not Alone”.. SMH… I was babysitting a 3 yr old girl who’s in love with him and preferred watching his videos to Nick Jr… yea… I forgot to skip “YANA” and she was like.. “Oop… HIM NAKEY!!” …. *face palm*
Anyway, I digress. Title aside, this song knocks.
Listen to Austin Brown’s “Menage a Trois”…. HERE
The video is simple but fun and totally worked for the song. But you know, my one critique of the video… Austin wearing white Chuck Taylors while dancing against a white backdrop. You could barely see his feet during his wiggle walk. That’s no good. So I hope in the future, he’s mindful of that. Making sure we can always see his fancy foot work or he might as well not even do it.
AppleHead Review: Backtracking…
For those of you who have been keeping up with my music reviews, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve reviewed MOST of Austin Brown’s music.. but not all of it. The reason behind it is simple, I didn’t think of doing it early on and started with the first new song that came along after the idea. So now, I plan on going back and reviewing the songs I’ve yet to review, starting with Menage a Trois and forward. Soooo.. sit tight.. more coming soon!!
Peace, Luv & Oatmeal
Find the AppleHead Review… HERE
AppleHead Review: “Bass ‘n Drum” by Austin Brown
by Merita AppleHead, May 15, 2012
Every time I think Austin Brown is done releasing music until the June drop of his album “Highway 85” … he releases something else. Kinda reminds me of how when the Backstreet Boys are working on their new albums, “mysteriously” songs leak online, it’s usually Nick, giddy and excited for fan feedback. Maybe that’s the case with Austin, or maybe these post Music Monday releases were already in his master plan, whatever the case, I’m glad to have whatever songs he wants to give us.
I knew I’d love “Bass ‘n Drum” the moment it began because Austin started it with my absolute favorite thing…. lovely harmonies… Le sigh. As a matter of fact, this song contains several of my favorite things. Bass and drum, obviously… as well as a little Auggie falsetto. I hear again what sounds like an electro-theremin, which of course reminds me of the Beach Boys “Good Vibrations.” And there’s two more sounds in this song that I love, the little whistle at the very beginning that follows the opening harmonies and the what sounds like someone clanking a wooden spoon on a Mason jar (which very much reminds me Randy and Janet clanking away for of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough“… particularly the demo version). I really love little sounds like that, it kinda adds character to songs. Little splashes of color.
Cons for “Bass ‘n Drum” are fairly nonexistent as far I’m concerned. I will say, the one thing that would make this song absolute perfection… is knowing that it was indeed Janet or Randy clanking the mason jar on THIS song as well!! But you know, nothings perfect so I suppose I’ll just have to get over that one. LoL.
Listen to Austin Brown’s “Bass ‘n Drum”…. HERE
AppleHead Review: “Two Up” by Diggy Simmons
by Merita AppleHead, May 15, 2012
I remember watching Run’s House, and seeing a much younger Diggy sitting at the kitchen counter writing lyrics.. enter his big brother JoJo to come tease him. Funny how that turned out, he’s come a long way from being teased by his big brother for wanting to rap, to having an older brother who’s proud of what his kid brother has accomplished. Diggy is definitely my personal favorite of today’s young talent (along with 15 year old Jacob Latimore).
“Two Up” is the fourth single from Diggy’s album “Unexpected Arrival” and definitely my favorite. From the piano driven beat to Dig’s lyrical flow, this song knocks. At 17 years old, Diggy manages to make a song that’s both age appropriate and yet something an older hip hop fan can shamelessly bump. I do wonder if that’s him doing the vocal harmonies on the track as well, because if it is, it’s a wrap, everyone else can go home.
Cons? None for this track, I DIG this all the way. (“DIG”… you see what I did there? *wink*)
Listen to Diggy Simmons “Two Up”…. HERE
AppleHead Review: “Lazy Love” by Ne-Yo
by Merita AppleHead, May 15, 2012
“Lazy Love” comes as the lead single from Ne-Yo’s next album, R.E.D. (set to be released September 18th). I don’t usually keep up with Ne-Yo at all, but I basically stumbled across the information on my twitter timeline and thought I’d check it out.
One thing I can say, I love the beat, especially the riff at the beginning, which echos throughout the song. I can definitely imagine some Quick Style choreography to it. But, as much as I enjoy the beat, I’m just not nuts about the lyrics at all. The chorus is catchy-ish, which means fans will find it easy enough to sing along to, but it just doesn’t do anything for me. However, I suppose the beat and solid vocals make “Lazy Love” worth listening to when it pops up on the radio.
But as Reading Rainbow Levar would say…. “But.. you don’t have to take my word for it…”
Listen to Ne-Yo’s “Lazy Love” ….. HERE
AppleHead Review: “Put it Down” by Brandy ft Chris Brown
by: Merita AppleHead, May 8, 2012
I haven’t listened to Brandy in maybe a decade, so I had no idea what to expect with “Put It Down.” First listen, it was just “OK,” for me, didn’t like it or hate it. But… I clicked replay and found myself singing along and bopping to the beat. Liking it a little more with each replay.
As I sit listening still now, I really dig the vocals, particularly on the chorus, and the hook is fun and catchy. The bridge though, that’s my favorite part, the harmonies in it are absolutely lovely. You guys know how I feel about harmonies right? I heart them, dearly.
A fun little thing about the beat for me, the bass sounds like someone is thumping the biggest rubber band in the world, run through an amplifier. But maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. Whatever, I dig stuff like that. It works.
Cons? Hm, probably the fact that in seeing Chris Brown listed as a feature artist on the track, I expected trademark Breezy vocals. What I wasn’t expecting was a rap verse. It’s not that the rap was bad, it’s just, waiting for him to sing and then getting an.. “oh…he’s rapping”.. kind of a feeling.
At any rate, you should be sure to check out “Put It Down” if you haven’t already. It’s not the next great American classic, but it’s a good jam. I’d definitely blast this in the car.
Brandy on TWITTER
Listen to Brandy’s “Put It Down”…… HERE